September 17, 2012

300,000 year old wooden spears found in Germany

Warning: while the findings are correctly reported for what they are, they seem to be very old news, not from 2008-12 but from 1994-98 (h/t to Eurologist). It's possible that the opening of a new museum next year triggered the press release, which is in any case unacceptably misleading.

However as the data is valid and the findings interesting in their own right, I won't delete this entry.


One of the Schöningen spears
Eight wooden spears and remains of many large mammals have been found in an abandoned mine in Schöningen (Lower Saxony, Germany). The area was underwater before the mine explotation began what explains (because of low oxygen) the exceptional preservation of the weapons, though to have been made by Homo heidelbergensis, such as the contemporaneous specimen from Steinheim, the direct ancestor of Neanderthals.

The bones of large mammals -- elephants, rhinoceroses, horses and lions -- as well as the remains of amphibians, reptiles, shells and even beetles have been preserved in the brown coal. Pines, firs, and black alder trees are preserved complete with pine cones, as have the leaves, pollen and seeds of surrounding flora.

Another findings from the last several years of research in this site are a water buffalo, a well preserved aurochs, as well as other artifacts, bones and wood - all them apparently from more recent periods.

Source: Science Daily.

10 comments:

  1. These were actually found between 1994 and 1998.

    Something got lost in translation...

    http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/landingpage/newsfullview-landingpage/article/geschickte-jaeger-schon-vor-300000-jahren.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6ningen_Spears

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flippant. The press release (and hence SD) says 2008, 2013 and is dated in 2012. And then the findings are from 1994-98?!

      I'd suspect that the new museum, to be inaugurated next year, has triggered this confusing press release. In any case, thanks for the information: I'll add a note.

      Delete
  2. Well, the Tübingen press release just states that the diggings have been recontinued under Tübingen oversight since 2008 - the first sentence actually mentions that the site has been given a lot of attention by archaeologists since the mid-nineties.

    It goes on to say that since then - i.e., in the past 4 years - the remains of a water buffalo, an aurochs, and concentrations of stone, bone, and wooden artifacts have been found.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just to be clear, IMO the press release on the University of Tübingen web site is in no way misleading in German. The subtitle and first paragraph are very clear that this site gained notoriety in the mid-nineties due to the spear finds.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "These were actually found between 1994 and 1998"

    I was fairly sure I'd heard about them before.

    "in the past 4 years - the remains of a water buffalo, an aurochs, and concentrations of stone, bone, and wooden artifacts have been found"

    'Bone' is interesting, but the most interesting is 'water buffalo'. I didn't know they had ever lived in Europe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No context is provided by the article but I imagine it is from Middle or Modern Age. Water buffalo is exploited today specially in Italy, where it's behind the famed mozzarella cheese. The exact origin of those buffaloes is unclear and historical interpretations suggest Middle Ages, being documented that up to the 18th century the animal was known in some areas as "Egyptian cow".

      The most popular hypothesis seems to suggest that it was introduced by the Normans, who were very active in the crusades. Previously the animal would have been brought to Egypt c. 600 CE.

      Delete
    2. PD- today there are buffalo herds, surely introduced by the Ottomans, as far north as Hungary and Austria for example, not too far from Lower Saxony.

      Delete
  5. It was a bit milder before ~400,000 ya, and again on-and-off after that. Macaque monkey bones have also been found at heidelbergensis sites.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "The most popular hypothesis seems to suggest that it was introduced by the Normans, who were very active in the crusades. Previously the animal would have been brought to Egypt c. 600 CE".

    I understood from your post that the water buffalo had been found in the same layer as the spears, but I see now that the bones are 'apparently from more recent periods'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The press release (and this entry as reflection of it) don't say much about them. I can only imagine that the buffalo at least is from a recent layer.

      Delete

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